Sin, Repent, Repeat by A.J Harlem

Sin, Repent, Repeat by A.J Harlem
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Short story (137 pages)
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Revenge is best served cold.

When Shona Williams returns to her hometown, Ironash, as an experienced DI, she has scores to settle. Justice will be delivered. What they did to her was evil.

Trouble is, she’s been thrown into the middle of a serial killer’s spree. Barely catching a breath between murders, he’s rampant, merciless, twisted, and preys on the weak.
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Will her new partner, Earle Montague, be a hindrance or a help? Will she have time to work on her very personal case? And will the murderer slip up so they can swoop in?

Only God knows.

Shona Williams returned to Ironash for a number of reasons, but a quieter pace of life – and far fewer homicides to investigate – were two of the major draws to smaller town living. But on her first day back at work a suspicious house fire reveals a dead body. Not from smoke-inhalation or natural causes, but bludgeoning. And with a major festival only a week away, the police Chief is determined Shona and her new partner Earle solve the case in a hurry.

I frequently enjoy British crime stories, particularly those set in the smaller towns where everyone knows everyone. I also really liked how most of the various character’s actions weren’t just straight-forward. I thought the plotting was really strong – layered and slotting together like a jigsaw with many little pieces forming a larger whole.

This story was a delight, not only because I managed to find an excellent, character-driven crime-mystery story, but also because a number of aspects to the story were fresh and unique to me. The “who” aspect to the mystery was shown very early on, but with multiple layers and complexities behind the “why” I found myself deeply involved in the story and eagerly turning the pages. I’ve never read a story with this particular pathology and twists to the plot and I found the story as a whole both refreshingly different and yet still comfortable enough that it was like a pair of well-worn jeans. Exciting and yet still familiar.

I thought the characters were very well drawn. Shona and Earle in particular were revealed to me as the reader at a good pace, slow enough I could savour and enjoy learning about them both, but quickly enough the story didn’t drag. There were an excellent cast of strong secondary characters, many of whom were important in helping to make the small town of Ironash feel both realistic and relatable to me. I also absolutely loved the almost timeless feel of the story too. While clearly modern, I had a strong sense throughout the whole story that if a few aspects of modern technology were removed from being referenced, this could easily have been an Agatha Christie-esque story. I loved the reminder that despite the keen edge of technology and progress, at heart small towns – and people, in particular – remain largely the same as they always have. I adored this reminder and found it added to my enjoyment of the story greatly.

With many layers and aspects to the plot, and a number of them being completely unique and fresh to me, at least, this was a wonderful story and one I thoroughly enjoyed. I loved this exciting new mystery and am thrilled to find two more follow on books will be released in the coming month. Readers who love a good British crime/mystery story should definitely check this out.

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